Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eaten Alive (1977)

If there is one thing that I always like to stress to either a horror newbie or a veteran looking to expand his horror horizons: Always know a film's alternate titles and pseudonyms! I can't tell you how many horror fans I've talked to and who have missed out on some great films solely because they didn't know that the film(s) they were looking for were right under their noses at their local video store! (Listen to me, talking like the American Establishment known as the mom and pop video store (or even rental store chain) still exists!)

This film is a prime example, boasting not one but seven different alternate titles. Let me flash back to the mid 80's. It's a stormy night in the Rio Grande Valley and I'm late watching TV on my mother's portable black and white set. The thunder is looming overhead and suddenly the screen goes black and this announcer starts telling the story about a monster lurking in the outback. I see something in the distance on the screen and as the announcer continues, this figure comes closer and closer to the screen. Soon enough, I see that it's the mouth of a creature coming closer to me and I freeze in total fear. The narrator stops and announces what I derive to be a coming horror film. The image you see to the left is now on the screen and as the announcement ends with the ominous voice stating, "Legend of the Bayou. Pray it isn't true.", a bite is taken out of the word "Bayou" and the screen goes black.

You don't forget something like that when you're nine years old.

I'd been looking for this particular film for a while now but never could locate it. For starters, I was looking for it with it's alternate title on the left (insert Price Is Right loser music here). One day I was researching another film on line and I bumped into a description of this film with its original title Eaten Alive. When I read the list of alternate titles and saw Legend of the Bayou as one of them, I think I squealed out of pure delight! And I'm being serious. So my research went in a different direction. I quickly learned that there was a DVD print available from Elite Entertainment. (sigh) Ah, Elite. How I love each and every one of your releases. Sadly, though, I couldn't find anyone that had a copy for sale. That is, until last week. I finally got my hands on said Elite version at Rasputin's (for a very low price! Um, about $3.95?) and I was on top of the world. Now, getting my hands on it was one thing. Sitting through it was going to be something else. I mean, when you direct something as landmark and as influential as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, can your follow-up film measure up?

The answer to that is a simple 'no', ONLY because this is a completely different type of film. But when your follow-up film's opening is a man unzipping his fly and spouting the unbelievable line, "My name is Buck and I like to fuck", you know you've tapped into something ultra-special. The premise is simple: Young girl flees a brothel and checks into a local seedy motel on a creepy swamp lake. Hotel owner has a huge crocodile (yes, a crocodile) that he feeds unsuspecting victims to. Sounds cheesy? Sure it does. But this film executes the idea well.

Ok, let me stop and say something. And I know I'm probably going to get a lot of slack for this but I'm one of your more outspoken and unique horror bloggers so here goes: What is the deal with Mr. Robert Englund in this film? Geez, I've seen him in everything from 976-EVIL to Slashed Dreams and never in any of the films I've seen with him has he looked so damn hot! I mean, this is Freddy Kreuger we're talking about here, right? Lord, have mercy, the man comes out in a wife beater and tighty whities! I will probably never see him in the same light ever again. (Lets out a large heaved sigh).

Okay, with that said, let's move on to the rest of the film. For being what it is, Tobe Hooper did a great job. Great performances by Mel Ferrer, Neville Brand, and of course, Chainsaw veteran Marilyn Burns, which, IMO was hired for this film just because the girl can scream. And boy can she scream! The story itself is a bit drawn out at times, but you get a feel for the characters and their plight to escape the evils of ol' Judd and his killer croc. The special effects are not bad for being 1977.

Now wait a minute, now I'm confused. If I saw the trailer for "Legend of the Bayou" on television in the mid 80's, was it re-released just with a different title? I'm going to have to look that up. I remember a kid that went to my church during that time got his dad to take him and see it and I can remember the jealousy I felt because he was able to see it. And now that I'm older, I'm even more jealous that he got to see it on the big screen. I'm even wondering as to why Elite wasn't able to get the TV spots for this one with their different titles? It would have been really great to re-live that little piece of my childhood again. To see that black screen with the eerie mouth coming closer...and closer...and closer......

If anyone has that trailer, or knows where I can see it, PLEASE let me know.

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